Former doubles champs heap praise on ‘pathbreaking’ Satwik-Chirag

Former national men’s doubles winners Sanjay Sharma and Uday Pawar feel the young Indian pair can become World No. 1.

Indian doubles pair Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty pose with their medals and trophy after winning the Thailand Open 2019 title in Bangkok on Sunday.   -  PTI

 

Former national men’s doubles winners Sanjay Sharma (with Pradeep Gandhe in 1978) and Uday Pawar (with Pradeep Gandhe in 1982, with Ravi Kunte in 1987 and with Vinod Kumar in 1990 and 1991) are thrilled at Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty’s splendid title win at the Thailand Open Super 500 tournament.

Sharma feels Satwik-Chirag will gatecrash into the Top 10 in world ranking and they have become medal hopes at the World Championships in Switzerland this month, leading to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

Pawar — who has played a big part in coaching and mentoring Chirag and on ocassions, Satwik, described the young pair’s achievement as “pathbreaking”.

From left: Indian shuttlers Sameer Verma and H.S. Prannoy with badminton coach Uday Pawar at a workshop.   -  FILE PHOTO/ SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

 

“Men’s doubles has changed a lot from the time rally-a-point came into force. Doubles has become faster and more aggressive. Both, Satwik and Chirag are tall players and aggressive. This (Thailand Open) is the third tournament they have played well after Indonesia and Japan. They were getting better every tournament. They are not overawed by the occasion and opponents. The consistency they have shown at their age is an indicator that they have the potential to be the World No. 1 in the coming years. Both have been playing only doubles for six or seven years.’’

“It’s not a fluke win or one that has come out of the blue,’’ averred Pawar.

READ| Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Chirag Shetty win doubles title

“They have been performing well in the last two years. The Indonesian coaches have made quite a difference. I must say that foreign coaches have better training methods; what the Indians have is high skill sets and good tactics. As a combination, they gel well,” he added.

Sharma felt that Satwik and Chirag’s good show has put India back on the world badminton map.

“They are a very young pair, and so they have a lot of badminton in them. This being the Olympic qualifying year, they have a very strong chance. They are in good nick and have to maintain their consistency leading up to the Olympics which is not difficult now because they have beaten the World No. 2 pair. After a long time, Indian badminton has got a good news.’’

When asked if the focus will be on men’s doubles, Sharma said: “It’s singles all the way, but now there is a ray of hope in doubles. When Saina Nehwal came through, the others came through. Now Satwik and Chirag have raised the bar and the youngsters would like to emulate them. They will not only be the pair to follow, but the pair to beat. In singles, there was Nandu Natekar, followed by Dinesh Khanna, Prakash Padukone; then Syed Modi had a game akin to Prakash. Then Pullela Gopichand came after a long time. Now the BAI should get into the act for promoting doubles.’’